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Basics

FSA Friday with Sean - 1/12/18 - Let your FSA help you fight off the flu

Happy Friday, everyone! We're only two weeks into 2018, and the new year is already newsworthy -- most notably with the cold weather, which brought snow to sunny Florida, and record-setting low temperatures to most of the nation. Of course, that has us thinking about the flu.

Well, we're not the only ones talking about it. According to some recent headlines, cold and flu season is a major concern for people of all ages this year, which brings us to our first headline this week:

CDC- 2017/2018 flu season strongest since 2009 - Drug Store News - 1/8/18

According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, 5.8% of patient visits reported were due to flu-like illnesses. This is well above rates recorded for the 2016-2017 flu season, and nearly matches the height of illness frequency recorded across the 2014-2015 flu season.

What's more concerning is that indications suggest we haven't seen the peak of this year's season, yet. There are plenty of easy ways to avoid getting the flu, and the flu shot remains one of the most effective. Which is why the next headline is so noteworthy…

Less than half of college students receive the flu shot - Drug Store News - 12/15/17

According to this article, though most college students in the U.S. believe it is important to get an annual influenza vaccine, only 46% say they typically get vaccinated, according to a new National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) survey, released earlier this month.

College students are at particularly high risk of getting and spreading flu because of frequent exposure to high-traffic areas. On that note, another common source of cold and flu exposure comes from the office, which is why we want to share one more headline.

How to prepare your workforce for flu season - Employee Benefit News - 12/28/17

According to this article, employees miss an average of five workdays per year due to the flu, at a cost of about $200 per person for each lost day. That means for a workforce of 250 employees, flu season could cost $250,000 in missed work days every year. This piece takes a closer look at the benefits of protecting your staff -- and yourself -- against this nasty flu season.

If you're seeking FSA-eligible cold and flu relief, look no further than our growing selection of products. And, for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to follow our Learning Center, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.

Basics

FSA Friday with Sean - 12/15/17 - CVS/Aetna, flu season and the GOP tax bill

With the year coming to a close, there is plenty of activity in the healthcare world. FSA users are spending down the remainder of their funds before the year-end deadline. And families all over the U.S. are making big financial decisions about 2018.

This week's roundup is focused on the major, sweeping changes that are already setting the tone for 2018. In just one calendar week, we saw a major healthcare merger, a reported boost in seasonal illness, and more discussion on healthcare tax reform.

Yes, the end of 2017 has been interesting for individuals and families alike. Here's what caught our interest this week:

In the U.S., Flu Season could be Unusually Harsh this Year - Rob Stein, NPR

Have you gotten your flu shot yet? You probably should considering how bad this year's flu season is expected to be! According to NPR, things started a few weeks earlier than usual, which could signal a longer, more severe flu season.

Remember, flu shots are FSA-eligible. If you do come down with a major seasonal illness, your FSA can help.

CVS-Aetna deal will change the way many big employers buy employee health-care benefits - Reuters

One of the biggest pieces of news to emerge this December is the merger between pharmacy giant CVS and Aetna, one of the country's largest health insurance providers. Thanks to this $69 billion transaction, many industry experts are predicting a major change in the healthcare industry.

With ACA individual mandate gone in GOP tax accord, employer groups plot next steps - Jeri Clausing, Employee Benefit News

The GOP tax bill has passed both chambers of Congress, and both the House and Senate reached a deal to finalize the bill. One of the major regulations is a repeal of the Affordable Care Act's requirement that all individuals carry health insurance, which raises major questions for the future of the individual healthcare marketplace.

Without the mandate in place, this could lead to a destabilized market and more costs shifted to employers. Additional bills are being introduced to fix this. But it remains to be seen if the tax bill will pass in its current format. We'll keep you posted about any changes!

For the latest info and tips for managing (and maximizing) your own accounts, be sure to follow our Learning Center, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.
Living Well

How do steam inhalers work?

Fall is just around the corner. Alongside the season of pumpkin spice, beautiful foliage and comfort food, autumn brings health challenges. Seasonal allergens like ragweed begin to emerge, and the arrival of cold and flu season means possiblenasal congestion!

If you have aflexible spending account (FSA), itwill covers cold, allergy, and flu treatments. Steam inhalers are simply a good drug-free alternativetoover-the-counter medicines.

How Do I Use a Steam Inhaler?

Do you ever notice how much better you feel and how clear your nasal passages are after taking a long, hot shower? Steam inhalers, also known as vaporizers, can provide a similar level of relief for nasal congestion associated with colds or the flu.

How do they work?

Steam inhalers are small, hand-held devices that deliver a fine, humid mist to the nasal passages. They deliver a mistthrough a mask placed over the nose and mouth.

Steam inhalers are valuable treatments for issues including:

  • Cold, Flu and Cough Symptoms.Steam inhalers can thin mucus in the nasal passagestoreduce any nasal congestion. These special types of inhalerscan provide soothing relief to an irritated throat and breathing passages.
  • Dryness. Antihistamines and medical nasal sprays can dry out nasal passages as part of themedicines within them. Steam inhalers can combatdryness in the nasal passagesby moisturizing the sinuses, nose and throat.
  • Sinus Congestion.In the event of a sinus infection, expectorants are the go-to over-the-counter medicines to thin mucous and expel it from the body. Steam inhalers function as natural, medicine-free expectorant. Through steam inhalers humidity penetrates deep into the nasal passages and loosens mucous.
  • Allergies. Steam inhalers are a reliable treatment for those who suffer from seasonal allergies. Pollen grains and other allergens can linger in your nasal passageways long after you come indoors. Allergy symptoms can trigger whetherallergens linger indoors or outdoors.Steam inhalers can washaway allergens and environmental pollutants that causepersistent nasal congestion.

As fall gets underway, make sure you have everything you need to keep your family healthy by shopping at FSAstore.com! We take all FSA cards/major credit cards as you shop for FSA eligible items.

Mabis Personal Steam Inhaler

This stylish steam inhaler helps you take control of your cold, flu or allergy symptoms while adding a sleek touch to any room.

MyPurMist Free Cordless Ultrapure Steam Inhaler

Get a therapeutic warm mist for instant relief with this steam inhaler, no cords attached.


Shop for Cold & Flu products with your FSA at FSAstore.com

Eligibility

Prepare for flu season

It’s official. Cooler temperatures, pumpkin-flavored everything, colored leaves…fall is in the air.

September 22 marked the beginning of fall. Now is an important time to think about your fall health.

Each year, thousands of Americans suffer from flu symptoms.

Can I use my Flexible Spending Account toward flu & cold treatment?

Yes!

  1. You can use your FSA to pay for a flu shot.
  2. Soothe cold and sinus pain with FSA eligible products - some items are FSA eligible without a prescription as well.
  3. Medicines such as Tylenol Cold, Mucinex, and Advil will require a doctor's prescription for FSA reimbursement.

Contact your FSA administrator with any FSA reimbursement questions, or check out our FSAstore.com blog post on FSA reimbursement.